Rocket Leagonomics

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Heyyyyy.” A new chat box pops up via Steam. “Want to play some Rocket League?
“Sure,” I reply, albeit with a tad of hesitation. “Just give me a second — got to reboot to Windows.

My friends don’t understand what Linux is, or how much better it is than Windows. Neither do they recognize how awful Skype is. I mean, it’s not actually awful; I just prefer not to use it. It sucks when I have to make them wait for me to boot into Windows. Sure, some folks have been able to get Rocket League to run through Wine. Not so in my case. I have to reboot. Every time I want to do some multiplayer with them, which is almost every day. At times I turn them off, simply because I don’t want to use Windblow — er, I mean, Windows. Why can’t this bloody thing just be on Linux already?

This ain’t rocket science.

But bear in mind, this also isn’t news, a review, or what have you. Rather, it’s an opinionated piece. I understand that some are bothered by such a thing, so I’m giving the warning now.

I’ve generally been burned by delays. Every day I’m seeing more and more projects with the label “We will have Linux support — eventually.” The keyword here is, eventually.

Translation: we’ve gotten caught up in other things, Linux targets only a small audience and with no profit, we just aren’t motivated enough to do it.

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I expected to be able to play Rocket League on November 10, 2015 — the day the Steam controller, the Steam Link, and some of the Steam Machines were released and put out on the market, and when SteamOS officially rolled out of the beta phase. After all, it was included as a gift for pre-purchase of the Steam controller or Steam Link. On November 6, one of the developers confirmed that the port would be ready “very soon.” Now bear in mind, we’re seven months down the road and it still isn’t here. The port got pushed to December – okay, fine, I’ll wait.

Nope.

Oh, uh, the end of quarter one of 2016.

Nope.

Wait, I meant, quarter two.

Maybe, but probably not.

We’re getting close to a release window. Close? Close?? Didn’t you say that seven months ago? What do you mean by that? 2017? 2018? 2020?

These guys, from what I’ve heard, even got Valve’s backing.

Oh, wait. Valve time. Never mind.

Adding DLC, developing for the Xbox One, organizing tournaments every weekend, adding third-party cosmetic tie-ins, focusing on the competitive aspect, and making a “Hoops” mode, along with a bunch of other stuff, kind of make me scratch my head. Yeah, it’s cool to get a basketball-like mode, but what’s the priority at? Getting more attraction (*cough* money) by porting to Xbox One, which was actually planned later than the Mac/Linux version? Adding cross-platform multiplayer between said platform and PC? I’m more than certain the company has the financial resources to port the game and even then some. In fact, they earned over $110 million as of this month. But it’s still not here.

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I find that when developers say, “We’ll get you a Linux port after the Windows version has been optimized,” it seems the port just never comes. But hang on. I’m not going to go all hate-mode here. ProfessorKaos64 brought up an interesting theory on our podcast regarding what the porting process might be like for Unreal Engine 3 titles (around the 17:58 marker) — specifically, the team behind Psyonix might be a bit smaller than it should be, and since they already have cross-platform multiplayer implemented, they will most likely have a tough time figuring out if they can do the same thing with Mac and Linux. After all, I don’t think they have any examples to follow — as far as I’m concerned, I’ve yet to see a Mac/Linux title that can work together with the PS4/Xbox One. So, I’m hoping that that’s the issue taking place or something similar — that they’re making a conscious effort on the port and not on the, um, DLC or whatever.

My word of advice: don’t believe it when developers say their game will have Linux support at a given date. Be patient. Be sceptical. Don’t jump on the hype train. Don’t act surprised if three or four months down the road it’s still not there. Chances are it never will. For a bunch of reasons. Maybe they misjudged the effort required to get there. Maybe they moved on to another project. Or, you know, maybe they were simply full of shenanigans. It’s hard to know what’s happening. Devs are usually not transparent. For a game like Rocket League, this situation especially displeases me.

It was promised aeons ago.

My friends are still playing it.

But when it finally ends up on Linux, maybe they’ll have already moved on to something else.

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5 Comments

  1. “I don’t think they have any examples to follow — as far as I’m concerned, I’ve yet to see a Mac/Linux title that can work together with the PS4/Xbox One.”

    War Thunder by Gaijin. It can be done.

  2. It’s the chicken/egg thing. Publishers will be hesitant to bring their games to Linux as long as the userbase is below critical mass. Valve could potentially tackle the linux userbase issue by offering SteamOS timed exclusives (hl3 etc.) but they refuse to because …….principles.
    If hl3 appeared as steamos exclusive I can guarantee you this: All of the steam userbase would start dualbooting SteamOS/Linux.

    • I agree, Valve need to do a limited time exclusive release for SteamOS and get it out ahead of the Windows release. Even if it’s just 2 weeks or a month. Some gamers are impatient and will give Linux a shot. At that point you’ve made a huge gain just showing whats possible outside of the walled garden.

      Another couple of titles that were supposed to be coming to Linux were Darksiders 1&2. The guy porting it was announcing progress updates even, then poof.. Never happened. Very frustrating to see and I bet this has happened a lot over the last 2 years.

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